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Sunday School at Scipio

By: Ardis E. Parshall - May 10, 2010

Usually when I find something quaint about the way we Latter-day Saints conducted our lives and worship in the past, I can see how what we did then developed into what we do now. That isn’t the case with the material in this 1885 letter written by Thomas Memmott of Scipio, Millard County, Utah, to the bookstore and publishing firm operated by George Q. Cannon – there just isn’t anything in my experience that connects to this fun little bit o’ history:

Some years ago when taking up a new field here, we took in ten acres of land for the Sunday school for which we now have the deeds. The brethren donated a ten acre water claim, and then another brother donated five acres more land; thus our Sunday school now owns fifteen acres of land and ten of water.

We plant this with grain, hire out the land, and the proceeds are used for our Sunday school.

We made Brother Yates, our Co-op. Superintendent, treasurer. When the grain is thrashed it goes to him and he kindly allows us the highest cash price, we never closing out to him until we think grain is at its highest price.

Now we give small tickets to the scholars for early attendance and also for other good causes. These small tickets have a cash value – half a cent. These are redeemed with larger tickets whose value is two cents. These are in turn redeemed with anything proper on a cash basis. Thus many good books have got into the hands of our children from this source. At the beginning of this year many had saved up their tickets, and we offered to take them on Juvenile Instructor subscriptions and the result is six new subscribers from that source. Thus placing in the hands of the children the best work of the times for them.



12 Comments »

  1. Shades of Mark Twain!

    It looks like Tom Sawyer could earn a blue ticket for memorizing two verses from the Bible. Ten blue tickets equaled a red one, and ten red tickets equaled a yellow one. (This is reminding me of Alma 11.)

    Ten yellow tickets earned a “very plainly bound Bible” with illustrations by Doré.

    Tom Sawyer gets it into his head to barter all the goods he had earned selling whitewashing rights for Sunday School tickets. The results are as could be expected.

    I wonder if there were any young boys in Scipio bartering childhood treasures for the chance to win a subscription to the Juvenile Instructor?

    Comment by Researcher — May 10, 2010 @ 8:13 am

  2. Now that’s fundraising!

    Comment by Bruce Crow — May 10, 2010 @ 8:15 am

  3. But, wouldn’t the twelve disciples have been more interesting if two of them actually had been David and Goliath?

    Comment by Mark B. — May 10, 2010 @ 10:13 am

  4. Just to be clear, when you say that there just isn’t anything in your experience that connects to this bit of history, I assume you are talking about Memmott’s description of the kids in Sunday School as “scholars”?

    Comment by Hunter — May 10, 2010 @ 11:13 am

  5. Researcher – I knew it reminded me of something, but couldn’t think what until I read your comment!

    Comment by Alison — May 10, 2010 @ 11:28 am

  6. It reminded me of something as well, Alison, but it took awhile to remember what nook and cranny of children’s literature contained a story about Sunday School tickets. (David and Goliath and all.)

    I wonder if it was common for the Sunday School to own property.

    Comment by Researcher — May 10, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

  7. Interesting to read this as my mother was born and raised in Scipio, her family was sent there to help colonize it way back when. Thank you for sharing this tidbit of history. I wish I could ask her if she knew of this but she is in a far better place now.

    Comment by Cliff — May 10, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

  8. This is genius. What a way to get books to people. Really impressive.

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 10, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

  9. Researcher wrote, “I wonder if it was common for the Sunday School to own property.”

    My great-grandfather had a store in Centerville, Utah which sold caskets, and he owned the hearse. He and the Centerville Ward Relief Society owned the cemetery until they deeded it to the town of Centerville. Maybe this was not all that uncommon.

    Comment by Maurine — May 10, 2010 @ 10:44 pm

  10. I remember reading Thomas Memmott’s diary many years ago. I remember it because he said that my ancestor was “the most dishonest man” he had ever known. I found out later they had some problems over their water turns. I believe that Memmott was one of the educated men in town; taught school and wrote letters for others that needed his help. The diary was published by the family.

    Comment by Jeff Johnson — May 11, 2010 @ 12:02 am

  11. Actually, the Scoutmaster I replaced in my ward about 3 years ago had a bead system going on where the scouts could earn beads (uh, tickets?)for attendance, wearing uniforms, bringing their handbook, etc. These beads could them be used to purchase little camping knick-knacks like mini-flashlights, wool gloves, etc. Similar? I think so, especially since the gear was purchased out of the ward budget…

    Comment by Clark — May 12, 2010 @ 10:41 am

  12. It reminded me of something as well, Alison, but it took awhile to remember what nook and cranny of children’s literature contained a story about Sunday School tickets. (David and Goliath and all.)

    I wonder if it was common for the Sunday School to own property.

    Comment by Bruce — May 19, 2010 @ 4:30 am

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